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School board to consider GECAC running after-school program in Weston Ranch
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The after-school pilot project conducted in spring in Weston Ranch was deemed quite successful. Now, the Manteca Unified Board of Trustees is looking into possibly continuing the program. The issue is how to do that and where to get the money to keep it going.

Those are the issues that the board will be discussing tonight at their second meeting this month. The 7 p.m. meeting will be held in the school district board room at 2271 West Louise Avenue, corner Airport Way.

The discussion will focus on whether the school district should begin the process of entering into an agreement with Give Every Child a Chance that will allow the non-profit Manteca-based organization to provide the after-school program at Weston Ranch High School. A favorable vote by the board will give district staff to proceed with talks and possible signing of contract with GECAC.

The anticipated cost needed to run the program is $125,000 which is the amount mentioned at the last board meeting. The board, at that time, directed Superintendent Jason Messer to “look for money” in the upcoming school year budget that would fund the Weston Ranch after-school program. It was precisely because of the financial aspect of it that Trustee Manuel Medeiros said he does not approve of the program.

“I’m not against the program, but do we have the money?” he said, clarifying his position.

The pilot project in the spring had 50 to 60 students taking part in the different after-school activities offered which included martial arts, sports, and cooking.

Board vice president Evelyn Moore, an active GECAC volunteer tutor, noted that food provided at these after-school programs is the main thing that attracts the students. She noted that “all kids, in their letters, talk about how hungry they were.”

Jill Fritchen of Weston Ranch, who has been a member of the San Joaquin County Office of Education Board of Education for a number of years but was recently voted out in the election this month, agreed with Moore’s comment. The after-school program is “one of the best things” that could happen for the children, she said. “All the kids are able to pick up something to eat on the way home,” she noted.

Starting an after-school program in Weston Ranch was brought up by Trustee Sam Fant who represents this area which is part of the incorporated city of Stockton.

The board, at tonight’s meeting, will also consider the adoption of the 2014-2015 school budget.